Friday, December 23, 2016

HDS Carbon – Should You Upgrade?

Lowrance released the HDS Carbon series units on December 15th to the public and physically looking at them you can’t tell much difference from a HDS Gen 3 unit.  It’s what is under the plastic that counts in the Carbon units. 

Screen Upgrades

Lowrance has made improvements on the screen quality of the Carbon units over the Gen 3 models.  Gen 3 units were by far the best unit available for fishermen in regards to sunlight read ability in 2016.  The new SolarMax HD Screen boast wider viewing angles, look just as bright even when wearing polarized sunglasses, and have much more vibrant colors and whites. 

The screen resolution had increased on the 7 and 9” models while the 12” remained the same.  You now have a 1024x600 resolution on the 7” model over 800x480 on the Gen 3.  The 9” model now has 1280x720 over the 800x480 on the Gen 3 models.

Faster Processor

This is something Lowrance has needed for a LONG time.  On my HDS 9 Gen2 if I split the screen between Down Imaging, 200kHz and mapping it would be very slow to respond.  The Gen 3 was an improvement, but still had some issues lagging when compared to other units.  Now that the Carbon has a Dual-Core processor and twice the RAM that the HDS Gen 3 models have, there shouldn’t be any issues with it supporting all its features at once.

Dual Channel CHIRP

This feature will now allow you to use the 9 pin black StructureScan port on the back of the unit to connect a second or dual channel CHIRP transducer.  In most case this will require a 7 pin blue to 9 pin black adapter cable.  On the water what this means is you can view a high and low, low and medium, or high and medium CHIRP frequency at the same time.  This will really benefit offshore or Great Lakes trolling anglers the most.  I can’t really see much of an application for inland freshwater fishermen as the high CHIRP frequency does such an amazing job in just about all aspects of freshwater fishing.

It looks like you will not be able to use StructureScan and dual CHIRP at the same time as the dual CHIRP feature will require both transducer ports on the back of the unit.  You may be able to feed the StructureScan into a unit through Ethernet though if you have more than one unit on your boat.  This is due to their new Network Dual Sounder feature on Carbon models.

Mapping Improvements

The biggest change in the Carbon units over the Gen 3 models will be the fact they will now have the ability to create SonarCharts Live.  This is a much needed feature as all the other manufacturers have been able to do this while Insight Genesis still required you to upload sonar logs to the cloud before you could get your map.  With Navionics SonarCharts Live you can now view them live on the water with HDS Carbon.  You will require a compatible Navionics card such as Navionics+ or Update and it must have a current Freshest Data subscription with Navionics ($99/year).

These are the main changes Lowrance is offering on HDS Carbon over Gen 3 units for 2017.  The HDS Gen 3 models will still remain in the lineup.  So the question is, is it worth it to upgrade to HDS Carbon?  If you have Gen 3 units on your boat now I feel it’s hard to justify the price difference in price ($300 7”, $400 9”, $500 12”) unless you are an offshore fisherman who will take advantage of dual channel CHIRP. 


If you have an older HDS Gen 2 or Gen 2 Touch then it might worth it for you pay the difference and get the best of the best from Lowrance for 2017.

1 comment:

  1. Great site and article. Do you know if the HDS 9 Carbon is completely compatible with the cables and cutout for an HDS 9 Gen 2 Touch? My unit's power button went out and I'm considering replacing it with the HDS 9 Carbon but don't want to have to rewire anything.

    ReplyDelete